News around the Benefice
Christmas News Around the Benefice
The Christmas Season is in full swing around the Benefice.
We began on Advent Sunday with a United Benefice Advent Carol Service in Tackley - a first for the Benefice. It was a super evening of Advent carols, led by a choir made up of volunteers from our three villages, with Peter Read playing organ in fine style.
One of the pieces the choir sang was "Salvation's Songs", which Rev Marcus Green wrote for his induction fifteen months previously. Click here to hear the choir singing this anthem.
Tackley continued with Christingle and St Nicholas Fayre - raising a hugely impressive £1,340. The Steeple Hand Bell ringers have been raising money for Ebola Relief, and the Steeple Carol Service collection raised £326 for the Special Baby care unit at the Horton Hospital in Banbury. Last year, we had twins from the village born there on Christmas Day and subsequently baptised in Steeple. It was lovely to help this super hospital at Christmas.
Both Church Schools held genuinely inspiring Carol Services in their churches, with beautiful singing from all the children. Special congratulations to the Tackley children on singing to the organ - something that was very unusual for them. And the choir from Dr Radcliffe's sang an Ave Maria in Latin!
All three parishes held their carol services on the Sunday before Christmas. Terrific congregations attended across the Benefice, and thanks to Peter, Miranda and Marcus for organising all our choirs, and to Peter, Anthony & Jonathan for their organ playing. The churches look amazing as they are decorated for Christmas - with even North Aston having a tree this year!
North Aston is having a new organ installed - and its first outing was at the Carol Service. There is still work to be done, but first impressions are very favourable. It is an impressive beast!
Many thanks to all who are coming, to all who have worked hard to make our churches look beautiful, to the schools and singers and musicians and readers and countless people across our villages who make Christmas such a special time in our Benefice.
There's still more to come!!! Don't miss out.
And just to put you in a very Christmassy mood... click here to hear the Steeple Choir singing Marcus' 'Steeple Bells Carol' from the Carol Service.
New look churchyard for Steeple
The churchyard at Steeple is having a bit of an autumn makeover. A team of volunteers led by warden Graham Clifton began the work as they started to remove three trees from the north side of the church.
The three trees have been in the church yard for many years, and are now enormously high. They fill the centre of the yard on the north side, and take most of the light away from the church. The PCC discussed the issue at length before obtaining the permissions necessary to remove the trees.
In driving rain, and with the work occasionally stopped due to the wind, Graham and his volunteers worked all day and got about half way. The rest of the removal will take place at the end of November - weather permitting!
The churchyard is already far more open, and this part of the work will especially make a difference when it comes to the snowdrops in the early spring.
All Souls Remembering
The first Sunday in November saw the annual All Souls Service in Tackley. It's a time when folk from across our Benefice gather to remember loved ones they have lost, and to pray and worship together.
The hymns and prayers brought us close to God, and in a very special service almost one hundred candles were lit in memory of friends and family members. Every candle was a memory, a thanksgiving, a prayer, a symbol of love.
Revd Marcus Green led the congregation in prayer, and Fr Robin Gibbons spoke of All Saints and All Souls Days - the destination and the journey, the glory of eternity, and the hand of God that bids us walk his way.
The hymns spoke of this pilgrim life, the Lord our shepherd, and the resurrection hope of Jesus. One worshipper said: "I always come to this service - it's a very special time; I can't miss it."
If you did miss it, please remember there are always prayer candles that can be lit at any time in Steeple church. And we hold this service every year on the first Sunday evening of November in Tackley - do join us next year.
Tackley votes to become one service from September
Rector Marcus Green writes:
This week the PCC of Tackley voted to follow suit with our near neighbours in the Benefice and choose to bring Tackley’s morning and evening congregations together into one. I think this is a very exciting decision. Change is hardly anyone’s favourite thing, especially when it means uprooting the habits of prayer and worship that have become such a key part of life. Even facing the questions is hard, never mind coming to such a bold conclusion. I talk with other local clergy who are full of admiration for the way the PCC of St Nicholas have handled this discussion, and who look forward to hearing about how we move forward.
How are we moving forward?
From the beginning of September, there will be one service every Sunday at St Nicholas. It will be at 5.30pm. It’s not a case of the morning folk joining the evening congregation, but of everyone coming together. We will have a variety of styles of worship over each month - including Communion and Evensong and also sometimes more informal worship. We want to be a place which is open to everyone of every background and every age as we gather in God’s presence.
The pattern of services will be published here, and of course in the magazine. One of the reasons we are choosing 5.30pm as the best time because we hope that when we organise worship with families and children in mind, it’s late enough not to take away from the day’s other activities but early enough so that we finish by bedtime during school term-time. After all, events such as Harvest are so well supported by the village that this was very important to us as we talked about our options.
We’ll try new things too: Taize songs have been suggested, and there’s the new music for Communion we are still learning, and when we have a good number of us which includes some super singers even our old favourite Evensong will take on a whole new lease of life!
Why not ask around in August to see how things are going, and then join us at the new time after the holidays and find out if just sometimes change can be a nice surprise! Let’s all make our church thrive together.
First World War Vigil
August 4th 2014: One hundred Years to the day since Britain joined the First World War. There were vigils and events to mark the occasion across the country, and in the Benefice we held a service at Steeple to bring together our three parishes.
Exerpts from the writings of contemporary soldiers, as well as a comment from the last English survivor of the War on meeting the last German survivor, were framed with Biblical readings and prayers, and by two poems from the poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy.
The bells were pealed half-muffled, and candles were lit for every service man who left our villages but did not return. As their names were read out, so were the candles extinguished.
We prayed for peace - in our own lives, in our own communities, and across the world today. We asked forgiveness for the ways in which we do not honour those who fought for a better world. We sang ageless hymns of time and eternity, and glimpsed God's love touching our broken world.
Many thanks to those who worked hard to make this event happen in our community; to readers, to our organist, to all who came, to the rector, especially to our bellringers - both from Steeple and Tackley, and to churchwarden Graham Clifton who put in so much time and effort behind the scenes.
Steeple Aston - a Village Harvest
This year's round of Harvest Festivals began in Steeple with a true village Harvest: thanks to the initiative of Edwina Kinch, all the groups and societies in the village were invited to help decorate the church for the Harvest Festival.
There was a terrific response, from cricket club to Brownies to WI to bellringers to football club to Valentines to choral society, players, archive and many, many more. The allotments filled the porch with seasonal produce. The cheerful characters made by the Brownies made everyone smile. The music and posters from the Players & Choral Society in their floral display were remarkable and stylish. Perhaps the leek & carrot cricket wicket deserved a prize! But everyone - everyone did. The Pre-school paintings, the mountain of food gifts for Banbury Foodbank from Dr Radcliffe's, jams from the WI, pictures from the Archive, memorabilia & kit from football & badminton & golf clubs - all was glorious, all helped the occasion feel like a truly Village Occasion! Some displays pointed back to 1914 and the era just on the cusp of the First World War that began that summer.
The Harvest Supper was a huge success, with magician Jonny Oxford entertaining everyone, and the bellringers providing wonderful food. And the Festival Service itself was filled with joy, all the more so for the singing of members of the choir of Dr Radcliffe's. Rev Marcus Green reminded us of the spirit of thanksgiving at this time of year, and encouraged everyone to be thankful for all of God's good gifts, for one another, and for God's greatest gift - Jesus, and his love for each one of us.
The food gifts were dismantled quickly in order to get them out to people; but hopefully the photos give some impression of the joy of what was a wonderful weekend.
North Aston and Tackley celebrate Harvest
The Harvest Season continued this weekend in the Benefice with both North Aston and Tackley celebrating with their church and community events.
The Harvest Festival Service at North Aston was moved to Sunday morning, and as a result saw a great increase in people of every age joining us for worship. Traditional hymns were mixed with newer words to familiar tunes, and as Revd Marcus Green's "tree" failed time and again in the talk, everyone was kept entertained as well as inspired!
The usual village supper was moved to Sunday Lunch, which was a great time for families, and a marvellous meal was enjoyed by everyone who gathered. Many thanks as ever to the Nicholsons for the use of their barn, and to all who worked hard cooking and baking for us all!
In Tackley, we gathered in the evening and were delighted to be joined by members of the choir from Tackley Primary School who sang two songs from their upcoming Harvest performance at the school. Fr Robin Gibbons led the service, and again Revd Marcus Green spoke on the importance of being thankful.
The Harvest Auction at the pub afterwards was a huge success, with many staying on after the service and bidding outrageous prices for fruit, veg and cakes. Well over £300 was raised, and the church wardens want to thank everyone for taking part. Paul Joslin was our excellent auctioneer, and brought out the very best in generosity from everyone.
And so that was Harvest 2014 - and suddenly we really are into the autumn...
ZANE - Walking for Zimbabwe in the Benefice
Tom Benyon is a marvel: over 70 he runs a charity, ZANE: Zimbabwe a National Emergency, and every year takes on an enormous sponsored walk to raise money for the elderly and sick in Zimbabwe that his charity tirelessly serves.
This year his walk, with his wife Jane, was from Ambleside to Oxford, and the penultimate day of the walk took him through North Aston and Steeple Aston. Rector Marcus Green joined the walk at Deddington in order to accompany Tom and Jane through the Benefice.
Marcus says: "I have known Tom for over 20 years, and his energy is amazing. The way he makes his faith real by serving people in a land most of us simply don't know, finding the poor, the unloved, the forgotten, the sick and transforming their lives - he is an example to all of us."
ZANE has much support in the Benefice; in North Aston, Sarah & Kildare Bourke-Borrowes have held an event at their home in aid of the Charity, and in Steeple Aston, Christopher and Caroline Compston are strong advocates of its work.
When the walk reached the Fountain at North Aston, a goodly crew of villagers & church members greeted Tom, Jane and all those walking with them (including Rev Clare Hayns, who spoke at the United Benefice service in June and is Tom's daughter) and gave them refreshments and a donation to ZANE's work.
More info on ZANE can be found by clicking here.